Animal activists sue restaurant over foie gras burger
This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.
Animal rights activists are suing a Southern California restaurant over its foie gras burger, alleging that the dish violates the state's ban on the duck liver delicacy.
The first-of-its-kind ban went into effect July 1, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says Hot's Kitchen is breaking the law by changing the name of its "Foie Gras Burger" to "THE Burger" and serving it with a complimentary side of the rich, buttery pate.
Foie gras is made from geese and ducks who are force-fed through a pipe to plump their livers, a practice that animal welfare advocates have long decried. California's ban forbids the in-state sale and production of products derived from force-fed birds. Violators face a potential fine of as much as $1,000 a day.
"No restaurant can act outside the law by illegally selling the diseased livers of abused birds, and PETA will help make sure that this one doesn't," said PETA attorney Jeff Kerr in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Hot's Kitchen, Kelley Coughlan, said the restaurant had not been served with a lawsuit so far. "Hot’s stands by its previous statement that foie gras can be made humanely, and we continue to provide our customers with wholesome, humane animal products," she said in a statement.
The eatery's parent company, Hot's Restaurant Group, joined with foie gras producers in July to file its own lawsuit seeking an injunction against the new law, which it argues is too vague.
In July, one of the restaurant's managers, Christina Parrott, defended the foie gras burger in an interview with a local news site after the ban took effect.
"Technically, we're not breaking the law," she said, explaining that the foie gras is served, not sold, as a side.
For the record, 10:37 p.m. Nov. 28: An earlier verison of this post mistakenly identified Christina Parrott as a chef at Hot's Kitchen. She was the restaurant's director of operations.
--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Seared foie gras with wild berry and mocha moose. Credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times